Royal College of Surgeons in Ireland Coláiste Ríoga na Máinleá in Éirinn

Bioengineering

Bioengineering may be broadly defined as the application of the principles of engineering to advancements in healthcare and medicine.

Bioengineers use science and technology to solve healthcare problems, particularly through the design and development of medical devices, delivery systems and advanced imaging technologies.

Bioengineering also involves the study of cells and tissues and their interaction with biomaterials and implants.  This is especially relevant in the area of mechaniobiology which studies how cells respond to mechanical forces and biophysical stimuli.  As knowledge in these areas has expanded, the field of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine emerged. 

The goal of tissue engineering is to develop cell, construct and living system technologies to restore the structure and functional mechanical properties of damaged or degenerated tissue i.e. alternative approaches to healing through the development of regenerative, rather than replacement, technologies.

Extensive research in the field of bioengineering is ongoing in RCSI in all of these areas.  This research has traditionally been centred around the Bone and Tissue Engineering Research Group in the Dept. of Anatomy.

This group carries out research in a wide variety of areas including the mechanical behaviour of bone and other tissues, bone quality in osteoporosis in addition to a large and dynamic group which focuses specifically in the areas of tissue engineering and regenerative medicine (more information under the Infection, Immunity and Regenerative Medicine Research Pillar). 

Increasingly, bioengineering research has expanded into other areas of RCSI such as Dept. of Physiology which has an expanding group in computational and systems biology and the School of Pharmacy where bioengineering enables the development of drug products including biotherapeutics such as proteins, peptides and genes by using biomaterials to prepare controlled and targeted drug delivery platforms.

Bioengineers are also found in the RCSI laboratories involved in the National Biophotonics and Imaging Platform Ireland.  The platform consists of a consortium of imaging and biophotonics laboratories from across Ireland and international institutions.  Throughout RCSI, bioengineering research involves extensive collaboration with other institutions, including the Centre for Bioengineering in Trinity College Dublin in addition to numerous clinical collaborations. 

Ultimately, the focus is to translate basic research into the commercial and clinical arenas.  The Centre of Innovation in Surgical Technology (CIST) at RCSI ensures new ideas move from concept to market through commercial partnerships. Ideas are sourced from individual investigators, surgeons, innovation centres, multispecialty surgical and clinical groups on a national and international basis.

CIST also provides support to the RCSI Centre for Clinical Research & Development in the design and implementation of clinical trials and the management of the innovation programme in the RCSI National Surgical Training Centre and Medical School.